NASCAR received its third attempt from an automaker to bring brand identity back to the senior circuit yesterday morning. Dodge officially unveiled the 2013 Charger destined for service in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series starting next year to a crowded infield at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The development of the latest stock car from Dodge was overseen by Chrysler’s Street Racing Technology division. SRT worked with NASCAR to develop a stock car that actually resembles its production sibling in an effort to revive the old adage of “Race on Sunday, sell on Monday.”
“From the start, it’s been a collaborative effort with NASCAR,” said Ralph Gilles, President and CEO of SRT brand and motorsports. “NASCAR provided the manufacturers with basic specifications, but offered encouragement to venture beyond the look of the current race car. Our design and engineering group, working with Penske Racing, seized the opportunity.”
Gilles continued on by saying “We’re extremely proud that the Dodge Charger street car is the only rear-wheel-drive model in Sprint Cup competition that is available with a V-8 engine.”
Dodge is the third of four automakers that participate in the Sprint Cup Series to introduce its latest stock car competitor. Ford has already unveiled the Fusion that will be sent into battle next season and Toyota also “unveiled” a heavily camouflaged version of the new Camry. Chevrolet is now on the clock for its unveil but the Detroit-based automaker hasn’t given a timetable for when that will be. We expect to see either an SS version of the 2013 Malibu or possibly an Impala that’s being redesigned for the 2014 model year.
Dodge has already cleared one major hurdle in NASCAR with the introduction of its latest Charger stock car by making it look very similar to its production sibling. The Charger is also the only car competing in NASCAR’s best circuit that’s actually available with rear-wheel drive and a V-8 engine. However, the question remains: Who will pilot the new Charger for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series and beyond? Roger Penske, who was a major player in the development of the 2013 Charger, has decided to jump ship at the end of the season in favor of Ford. Both Penske and Dodge have both claimed they are completely committed to winning races in 2012 but it remains to be seen what this season holds.
When Penske leaves Dodge at the end of this season he’ll take his two drivers with him leaving his former vehicle sponsor high and dry. Dodge will attempt to field a competitive team for next season and beyond but hasn’t announced any new team partnerships as of yet. The automaker also said it will be “evaluating the opportunities available [in NASCAR] moving forward.”
As always, stay tuned as more details emerge for Dodge’s future in NASCAR along with when Chevrolet will show off its latest stock car offering.